Intellectual Property, Property Dispute Over Covid-19 Vaccines

Intellectual Property, Property Dispute Over Covid-19 Vaccines

Manufacturing capacity and ingredient shortages are major bottlenecks in increasing production of Covid-19 vaccines, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) said on Tuesday. Activists want intellectual property rights abolished on vaccines.

"Intellectual property rights are not a problem. The bottlenecks are production capacity, raw material shortages, ingredient shortages and all that is related to know-how," said Thomas Cueni, IFPMA Chief Executive, after a videoconference with the heads of large pharmaceutical companies and industrial companies.

As Reuters writes, the statement by Thomas Cueni is a response to appeals by activists, including the NGO Doctors Without Borders, who are demanding temporary immunity from patents for certain vaccine production technologies and accusing rich countries of blocking the production of preparations in poorer countries.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has also joined this dialogue, which on Wednesday is expected to start talks on a joint proposal between India and South Africa regarding the possibility of lifting the rules on intellectual property for drugs and vaccines against Covid-19.

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala called for urgent action to increase coronavirus vaccine production in developing countries on Tuesday. In his opinion, production facilities can be prepared for this purpose in six to seven months.

"The fact is, people will pay their lives for a shortage of vaccines every day," said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who was called by several member states to talk to vaccine manufacturers against Covid-19 to increase production.

"The WTO should use its full resources swiftly to support the rapid, pragmatic and tangible acceleration of the global response to Covid-19, and especially global vaccine distribution," wrote in a press release signed by Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, New Zealand, Norway and Turkey.

Meanwhile, the head of a network of vaccine producers in developing countries, Rajinder Suri, believes that giving away intellectual property related to vaccines will not solve the problem. "There are many issues that you really need to understand before we move on to technology transfer," he said. (PAP)